Pil­bara lo­cal leg­end marks 90th birth­day

Pilbara News - - News - Ben Leahy

■ One of Hed­land’s liv­ing trea­sures cel­e­brated his 90th birth­day last week over a cuppa with friends.

Hav­ing spent more than 70 fun­filled years in and around the Pil­bara, World War II vet­eran Merv Stan­ton said it was a plea­sure to con­tinue to be “fussed over”.

He said he joined neigh­bour Ge­orgie Rose for a brew at Dome Cof­fee, en­ter­tained his son who flew in for a visit and gen­er­ally could not es­cape the many well­wish­ers.

“I had a good birth­day and I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­body car­ing for me and they do make a fuss of me for my birth­day … they are still mak­ing a fuss of me, but I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it,” he said.

While tea was the drink of choice last week, Mr Stan­ton has more of­ten favoured a beer over the past 70 years.

First pa­trolling into the Pil­bara in 1942 as part of a guerilla force on the look­out for signs of the Ja­panese, he went on to serve with the Aus­tralian Army in New Guinea and Ja­pan be­fore re­turn­ing to Hed­land in 1948.

Along with the hard­ships and sac­ri­fices have been many lar­rikin tales.

These in­cluded sav­ing his army buddy from a crocodile along Eighty Mile Beach and play­ing rugby on the Hiroshima nu­clear blast site. He even went on strike in 1958 af­ter Hed­land’s port au­thor­ity banned drink­ing beer dur­ing smoko.

He said times had changed since then.

“When I came back af­ter the war in 1948 there were only about 300 peo­ple in Hed­land,” he said.

“The town didn’t go no more than one mile from the post of­fice — now look at the joint.

“I’m not even game to drive down to South Hed­land be­cause it is a dif­fer­ent coun­try all to­gether, I used to go out there and shoot kan­ga­roos.”

With more cof­fees planned for the com­ing days, Mr Stan­ton said his birth­day cel­e­bra­tions were still kick­ing on.

Pic­ture: Ge­orgie Rose

Merv Stan­ton has cel­e­brated his 90th birth­day.

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